Strong bond helps senior duo lead women’s basketball

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
Elizabeth Van Tifflin tries to find an opening in a past game

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter Elizabeth Van Tifflin tries to find an opening in a past game

Curtis Kalleward

It has been a good run so far for Elizabeth Van Tiflin and Kara Crawford, the lone seniors on Grand Valley State University’s women’s basketball team.

Named co-captains, along with junior Jasmine Padin, by their teammates, the two might be nearing the end of their college careers, but they still have a lot left to accomplish before graduation.

“They’re the rock of the program right now,” said GVSU head coach Janel Burgess. “They’ve seen a lot of different things, like any student-athlete has in their career. They’re very steady, they’re very driven and they’re by far our hardest workers that we have.”

Both players said they welcome the added responsibilities of being the elders in the locker room.

“Being a senior leader is actually a lot of fun,” Crawford said. “We have a lot of new people on the team. To have an insight on what to expect, comparing my freshman year to now, it’s definitely a new perspective. I’ve definitely been around the block in terms of what coaches expect from us and how to lead the team on and off the court.”

Van Tiflin said arriving at this point has made everything she experienced along the way worthwhile.

“It’s an accomplishment for the both of us,” she said. “We made it through four years. I think it’s an honor to be a senior and have the coaches bestow some of their responsibilities and their trust on you, on and off the court. We know what it takes, and this is our last year, so we’d like to leave a mark on the program for our teammates to follow.”

The coaching staff has lauded Crawford and Van Tiflin’s contrasting personalities and leadership styles, which have created a stable equilibrium amongst their teammates.

“We’ve been roommates for four years, so we’ve definitely helped each other out in a lot of ways,” Crawford said. “I think we both knew from the beginning that we could trust each other and get to this point. The coaches say that we balance each other out because she leads by example, and I’m more of the loud, obnoxious type … It creates a really good balance in practice.”

Van Tiflin echoed her teammate’s thought, adding the steady poise has aided in her own personal growth, too.

“She makes me laugh and she lightens the mood, whereas I tend to get too serious sometimes,” she said. “It’s nice to have comic relief there and have her as a roommate. We’re both going through the same things together, and it’s nice to have a venting buddy so that we have a clear mind going into practice the next day.”

The team will tip off against Michigan State University Nov. 7 for exhibition play.

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